Inside Nigeria’s Battle Against Sickle Cell Disease

In Kano, Nigeria, Mariya Haruna has lost 3 daughters to sickle cell disease, with another afflicted.
 
Congenital SC affects ~150,000 infants annually in Nigeria. Most, due to cost, are not screened at birth. About half die before age 5.

Uphill progress:

  • Daily doses of hydroxyurea, a chemotherapy medication, can reduce strokes in SC-affected children.
  • Growing availability of Transcranial Doppler ultrasound machines that detect stroke risk.
  • A 12-cents-a-day regimen of anti-malarials, folic acid, and penicillin, though costly, could significantly decrease fatalities.

Efforts to detect and prevent SC include blood tests after birth and before marriage, although shortages of doctors and insufficient tracking of medical records make progress difficult.

The Quote: “The disparity in survival in sickle cell patients in high-income versus low-income countries is injustice,” said Shehu Abdullahi of Kano’s Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital and Bayero University.

The New York Times

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